The rainy weather did not deter groups of expectant mothers and couples from attending a baby shower in their honor on Saturday, April 29th. The Beraca Community Development Corporation (BCDC), a not-for-profit organization partnering with Beraca Baptist Church, 9602 Flatlands Avenue, held a community baby shower to gift parents-to-be with baby care essentials while providing much-needed information on maternal health equity.
In collaboration with the New York City Department of Health, Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP), representatives from SUNY Downstate Hospital, Fidelis Care, the office of State Senator Roxanne Persaud, Fresh as Daisy Kid Spa and the Life of Hope center, families received supplies of diapers, baby wipes, monitors, creams, car sets, strollers, gift certificates, books and other items for newborns and children up to 1 year old.
The event began with a continental breakfast and went right into presentations on maternal health disparities and the maternal mortality crisis. The mortality talk was led by Dr. Christina Pardo, an OB-GYN and birth equity leader, and a team from SUNY Downstate and Life of Hope, who also presented on maternal mental health. A nutrition clinic was held by Therese Fortune, a registered dietitian. The interactive afternoon demonstrations and workshops on safe sleep were facilitated by HAUP and were filled with games, dancing and raffles. Moms and Dads-to-be bonded with community leaders, church members and other families. They took selfies in front of a decorated photo wall. The community baby shower was the soft launch to an ongoing series of upcoming events and programs by BCDC to address the state of black maternal health in New York City.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in comparison to white women, black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. In April, President Biden designated April 11th to 17th as Black Maternal Health Week. He also proclaimed the month of May to be National Mental Health Awareness Month. The BCDC team intentionally included mental health awareness as part of the day’s focus on prenatal and postpartum care in order to dispel myths and stigmas associated with mental health, particularly in the black community.